A September 2007 audit reveals $45.3 million in wasted and misappropriated funds at the city's wastewater plant. It says $22 million was spent on a non-functioning filter press. Also, $2.8 million was spent on sludge digesters and a methane gas scrubber system that never worked. Taxpayers spend over $70,000 per month on natural gas to operate digester boilers that were designed to be operated by methane gas produced by the digesters. Some concrete structures actually collapsed. No one was held accountable and the city continues to hire the same engineering firms and the director was awarded another $21.9 million to spend on sewer upgrades.
The Warner Park CSO station was built at a cost of $8.3 million and did not function as designed. Same firm. Combined sewer stormwater backed up in the Warner Park Zoo. Sewage was later diverted into a wooded area near the zoo. Very few of the city's pump stations function as designed.
The city spends millions of dollars a year with an engineering firm to help operate the Moccasin Bend Wastewater Plant. This company had supervisors playing Legos.
I testified at a two-hour meeting with the FBI and EPA on Sept. 21 on these matters. As with the 21st Century Waterfront construction fiasco, the statute of limitations had expired due to the city administration's non-concern for the taxpayer's money.
Stormwater tax (don't call it a fee) was raised by 320%. The first project that this money was used for was a $750,000 drainage ditch on Chattanooga Golf and Country Club's private property.
Serious sewage spills occuring at different parts of the city resulted in fines against the waste resources director and federal lawsuits against the city. The city was warned by both contractors and employees that this would happen due to the absence of preventative maintenance of equipment. The fish kill and long term contamination at Browns Ferry Marina was celebrated with a one-year anniversery party at the Moccasin Bend Treatment Plant and was attended by top city officials and at least one council member.
The mayor is trying to take over Tennessee American Water Company. The city cannot even operate a sewer system. If the city gets control of Tennessee American Water Company, it will be a total fiasco just like the sewer system. If this happens don't drink the water.
The taxpayers were recently slammed with a $250 million consent decree (fine) from the EPA as a result of the incompetent operation of our sewer system. The amount of these penalties and fines will more than double before it is all over unless the next mayor steps in and takes the steps to stop the waste. The city of Birmingham and surrounding county declared bankruptcy due to a very similar project.
District police stations were closed due to cost, according to the mayor's office. Cost of design alone would have funded these stations for years not counting the over $1.5 million cost of building the new station in an area where no one pays taxes.
Other items include requiring police officers to park or pay for take home police cars while city officials were given $400 a month for a car allowance or furnished a take home car. And, thousands were spent on construction and security for a lot to park officers' cars who chose not to pay for a take home police car.
While other city employees were given a raise police officers and firefighters get nothing and are required to" jump through hoops" in the city's career ladder program in order to even hope to get a pay raise. If an employee is happy doing his or her job, they deserve a raise like the rest of the city employees.
Office of Arts Education and Entertainment, Multicultural Affairs and Green Sustainability are not needed and functions can be moved to existing departments. Mayor's spokesman, deputy mayor and all other deputy positions can be eliminated saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Audits performed by the city auditor and his staff have found millions in missing funds in almost every department. Mr. Sewell has also revealed improper bidding and other problems with the way the city does business.
This is just a small part of the factual list I have of problems that have been occuring over the last eight years in our city government.
I am not a trust fund kid. I have not and will not be able to raise $400,000 for the mayor's race. I have worked for everything I own just like the vast majority of the citizens of Chattanooga. I will not be in the pockets of the same small bunch who has run this city in the past. It is a shame that it takes that amount of money to run for mayor in this town. Maybe the office of mayor should be auctioned to the highest bidder. I will be out campaigning the best I know how. In the small chance I can be elected I can assure you this fine city will be controlled by the taxpayers and not by the same old special interest groups that line their pockets with the taxpayers' money.
Candidate for mayor of Chattanooga
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Sadly, the power structure will make sure someone that will keep the good ole boy system going wins. They put a lot of money behind candidates to ensure the gravy train continues.
More sad, the citizens will vote for the person with the most money because that is who will run the most ads, have the most signs, etc. I'll vote for you but it will be a miracle if you actually win.